CFP: Digital artifacts (Metaphysics)

Submission deadline: March 15, 2024

Topic areas



Metaphysics (editors: Kathrin Koslicki and Mike Raven)

Guest editor:

Alexandre Declos (University of Neuchatel)

Deadline for submissions:

March 31, 2024

Description of the special issue :

The category of digital artifacts includes things such as computer programs, simulations, websites, data, virtual environments, memes, videogames, NFTs, digital artworks, or smartphone apps. Although these entities have become pervasive in our daily lives, they have received comparatively little attention in the recent metaphysics literature. 

This special issue shall be dedicated to investigating the ontological issues raised by this peculiar sub-class of artifacts. We invite contributions around, but not limited to, the following questions:

• What differentiates digital artifacts from other types of artifacts?

• Are there different kinds of digital artifacts? 

• How do digital artifacts fit in or challenge extant accounts in the philosophy of artifacts?

• Do digital artifacts depend on the mind? If so, does it threaten their reality?

• Are digital artifacts material or immaterial? Can they be located? Are they reducible to a physical basis? 

• Are digital artifacts abstract entities? If so, how are we to explain the fact that they can be perceived, interacted with, or created? 

• How should we construe the relation between a digital artifact, seen as a type, and its various instances or tokens?

• Must we differentiate digital and virtual artifacts? If so, what sort of relation do they have to one another? 

• Can (some) digital artifacts be understood as social entities? 

• What makes the identity of a digital artifact? Its algorithmic structure? The intentions of its creator(s)? The use to which it is put? Its capacities or affordances?

• What are the persistence conditions of digital artifacts? For instance, what kind of change could a program survive?

• Are digital artifacts essentially defined by their function? How should we account for cases of multifunction, malfunction (e.g., bugs), or repurposing?

• Do digital artifacts have essences, whether as kinds and/or as individuals?

• What sort of process is involved in digital artifact production? Does it differ from what is involved in the production of non-digital artifacts?

• Should digital byproducts (e.g., bugs) count as digital artifacts?

• Do digital artifacts challenge common assumptions about creativity, authorship, or authenticity?

• Can digital artifacts be created by non-human agents? For instance, can ChatGPT’s  outputs be seen as digital artifacts?


Papers should be submitted through the journal’s online platform. Prior to submitting your paper, please consult the journal’s submission guidelines:

For any query, please email: alexandre.declos AT 

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